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Porto

Inhabited since the 4th century, Porto is perhaps Portugal's most underappreciated city. Situated on the banks of the Duoro River, Porto is a hilly and picturesque city characterized by boxy red-roofed townhouses, port wine lodges and the soaring iron arch of the Dom Luis Bridge.

Porto's city center is UNESCO Heritage-listed, featuring many examples of historic architecture dating from the 15th to the 19th century. The neo-classical Palacia da Bolsa is one such example, its intricately decorated Arab Room a popular tourist attraction. The aptly named Museu Romantico – Romantic Museum – is another, furnished in lavish 19th century style. Some of the more historic hotels in Porto are located in the old town.

Porto's churches span several centuries and architectural styles. The Porto Cathedral is the oldest, dating back to the 12th century and built in a confluence of styles after successive renovations. The baroque Clergyman Church and Tower represent the 18th century while the Santo Ildefonso church stands out for its façade, covered in painted blue tile, or azulejos.

Visitors to Porto have three obligations: to take a cruise along the Duoro; to visit the port wine cellars; and to sample the local delicacy, tripe soup. Port wine is Porto's most noteworthy contribution to the world of gastronomy and lodge tours provide an enlightening look into this important part of Porto's identity.

After dark, the riverside district of Ribeira hums with activity. Narrow alleyways and townhouses with pretty tiled façades typify this part of town, also where many of Porto's best restaurants and nightclubs are found. For easy access to nightlife and a great view over the river, a hotel in Ribeira would be ideal.

While it was once the point of departure for epic sea voyages and conquests, the main entry point to Porto now is Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport, 15 kilometers from the city center.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Porto, click on the interactive Porto map on the left-hand side of the page.